Friday, May 23, 2008

The Synkairotic

Does the synkairotic have an inception?

Agamben helps us to say about time what has been on the tip of the tongue. He begins:

Every conception of history is invariably accompanied by a certain experience of time which is implicit in it, conditions it, and thereby has to be elucidated. Similarly, every culture is first and foremost a particular experience of time, and no new culture is possible without an alteration in this experience. The original task of a genuine revolution, therefore, is never merely to 'change the world', but also—and above all—to 'change time'.

("Time and History," Infancy and History, p. 91)

Agamben finds in pleasure an experience to accompany a revolutionary conception of history. What is the time of accompaniment? Should we also look for it in καιρός, or the kairotic grasp of time. Agamben says, "within itself the cairós distils different times ('omnium temporum in unum collatio') and within it the sage is master of himself and at his ease, like a god in eternity" (p. 101-102). If the kairotic (rather than the thinker—as usual the sages have all the fun) actually does bring together all times, or all conceptions of time, then it would not only be useless to speak of the synkairotic, it would be absurd. Surely there was a paradox in this conception of the kairotic to begin with: how can kairos bring together all times and be a time itself? And further, oughtn't we historicize kairos? Oughtn't we question whether kairos/καιρός belongs equally to the Ancient Greeks, the Stoics and the Post-Industrial Europhones? At this moment, when it is uncertain whether the kairotic can carry all that has been put upon it, dare we anticipate that the synkairotic will fare any better, that it will after be able to carry what we need the moment to carry? Oh, but according to one reading of Seneca to totally inhabit the kairos would mean to anticipate its future, and to dwell in that anticipation; yet perhaps it is in the nature of the moment to allow the future to be. Should we worry about a revolution of the moment sliding into a revolution for the moment? Any time now the whole affair might be dismissed as vicissitudinal, and we ourselves might collapse into vicissitudinarianism. Indeed. Well, the synkairotic is necessitated not merely by the wobbliness of the kairotic but also at the same time by the wobbliness of the synchronic. Amidst all this wobbling superfluity may be the least of our worries.

If the kairotic is a bouquet of times, the synkairotic is the economy of cut flowers. From gardens to homes and every boutique (apothec/ἀποθήκη) along the way: snip, snip, snip. The synkairotic brings together, but it also cuts, and it lays away. The synkairotic neither merely anticipates nor allows the future to be, but it also lays it away.

"The poetic function projects the principle of equivalence from the axis of selection into the axis of combination." (We'll see where Arom takes Jakobson's (and Bachelard's) ideas soon enough.) There is yet another need for the emergence of the synkairotic. Pleasure and enjoyment must be joined, as must jouissance and orgasm. At the same time, any genuine revolution must be synorgasmic. The syncherotic function projects the enjoyment of polyvalence from the axis or selection into the axis of combination. Or something like that. Times change as fast as play. Ultimately I may come to embrace the vicissitudinal, without resentment if not without a tinge of sadness. How will I begin to describe the embrace of the synkairotic?

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posted by Fido the Yak at 11:38 AM.


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